The Punjab chief minister said his state was made to pay a heavy price for deployment of Central para military forces.
Setting the stage for fresh confrontation, Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Friday warned Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann of recommending action against the state government under Article 356 (President’s Rule) if he fails to furnish the information sought by him through letters.
In a strongly worded letter, the Governor also warned criminal proceedings under Section 124 of the IPC (assaulting the President, Governor, etc., with intent to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power) over the CM’s failure to give information sought by him (Purohit) through letters.
“Before I am going to take final decision regarding sending a report to the President of India under Article 356 about the failure of the constitutional mechanism and take a decision about initiating criminal proceedings under section 124 of the IPC, I ask you to send me the requisite information sought for under my letters referred to above, as also in the matter of the steps taken by you concerning the problem of drugs in the State, failing which I would have no choice but to take action according to law and the Constitution,” the Governor wrote.
Referring to his previous letters seeking information on a number of issues, Purohit said it appears Mann is deliberately refusing to give the information asked to him. The Governor also accused the CM of making derogatory remarks against him. He quoted several remarks made by the CM against the Governor. It included the remarks in which the CM had called the Governor a “velha baitha” (someone who had nothing productive to do) who kept sending him “love letters”.
Purohit said through these “derogatory remarks”, the CM attempted to restrain him from “exercising the lawful powers conferred on me under article 167 of the Constitution”.
Reminding the CM that not furnishing the information which was sought by the Governor would be plainly in dereliction of the constitutional duty which is imposed on the Chief Minister in terms of Article 167(b), in the letter Purohit said,”…. I have therefore to advise you, warn you and ask you to respond to my letters referred to above and give me the information sought by me.”
In Friday’s letter, the Governor has also raised questions about the supply of drugs in the state. “I have received reports from various agencies regarding rampant availability and abuse of the drugs in Punjab. It is common knowledge that they are available in chemist shops, a new trend is observed that they are being sold in the government-controlled liquor vends. Recent action by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and Chandigarh Police who have sealed 66 liquor vends in Ludhiana who are selling drugs, in a joint operation,’ he said.
“Recent report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee that one in five are exposed or addicted to drugs in Punjab. These facts point out to the breaking down of the law-and-order system in Punjab so much so that now villagers have started protesting on the streets in large numbers and decided to set up their own village defence committees to protect themselves from drugs. Please send a report concerning the action taken by you in the matter of these drugs to my office immediately,” Purohit added.